DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF BRAHMS SOFTWARE
Updated March 2017
The next generation of BRAHMS software is well on the way. BRAHMS v8 is being developed for collection managers in herbaria, botanic gardens, arboreta and seed banks; researchers in plant taxonomy; and those working broadly on floristic work undertaking sample-based surveys or compiling checklists and floras.
As with v7, BRAHMS v8 strongly supports the integration of data for collections management and research promoting innovative thinking about how to optimise your productivity. The BRAHMS project is an integral part of the research programme at Oxford to study and document plant diversity.
V8 uses the latest Microsoft .NET Framework. It harnesses the full power of .NET without the need for any IT expertise to install or use. Improved documentation, language independence and web connectivity are central features of the upgraded system.
V8 is delivered with a default SQLite database, completely portable and requires zero installation. Institutes and larger enterprise level systems can opt for SQL Server or PostgreSQL. Enterprise databases can tap into the full power, speed and security of the larger DBMS options with no limit to size.
BRAHMS v8 is fully international with respect to the interface and the storage of data. Translatable resources files are used to manage all interface components. Variable formatting (date, time, numbers, currency, etc.) and other processing features are language independent. Data storage is Unicode - no restriction on the character data stored across languages.
Collaborate with the development
BRAHMS v8 is a modular system facilitating plugin development by third parties. It is accessible to developers with different backgrounds and using different programming languages. Examples already in place are a link between v8 and the visual data exploration software Zegami (this developed at Zegami using the v8 module framework) and integration with ArcGIS mapping capabilities. These can also include web-based applications such as the hand-held data logger being developed by The Morton Arboretum for botanic garden inventory.
Explore some BRAHMS v8 features
The BRAHMS v8 inferface is fully translatable and data can be stored in any language or character set. All presentation layer text is held in translatable resource files (an example above) making it easy to add languages on request.
As with v7, BRAHMS v8 uses versatile grids to present data although it's also possible to switch to form mode. This means you can quickly locate, select, sort, query and analyze data. Context sensitive ribbon toolbars - like those used in Microsoft Office applications - offer all the features that long term v7 users have voted for. These include record tagging, two step deletion, zoom, column summaries and column selection.
Optimize viewing and editing tasks by selecting visible grid columns dynamically. Save these and share with colleagues and other BRAHMS users.
Drag selected records from grids to MS Excel or elsewhere. Data can also be exported directly to Excel or CSV files using the toolbar options to export data.
Queries/filters are remembered and can be selectively enabled. Structured query commands can be combined using AND or OR expressions with parentheses. The Query tool is here docked left.
Data in all tables can be sorted using single or multiple fields in ascending or descending order. Fields are easily selected from grid column or A-Z sorted lists. Any combination of character, numeric, date and logical fields can be selected for these commands. Sort commands can be named and saved for future use.
Record tagging allows you to mark records in the TAG column using a selected symbol or number. Each can be assigned its own colour. Tagging is used throughout BRAHMS for record selection, querying, grouping records and more.
Data can managed in spreadsheet mode or using forms. Forms can be resized, docked or dragged to a separate monitor. Here listing synonyms on the main species form.
The v7 fixed taxa text fields (descrip, distrib, uses, webLinks, etc.) have been moved to a more flexible taxa text storage structure. You can add as many categories of descriptive text as needed. Each text entry can optionally be linked to a literature source. All texts in v7 are automatically transfered to the new store format.
Forms can include calculated summaries such as here, a quick list of botanical records for the current taxa record with a summary or some of the collection details. In this example, the form is docked right.
Images are easily dragged to the image viewer and stored in your central images library where they can be further organised and managed.
Navigate to selected columns using the toolbar fieldlist dropdown. Display selected cell content in a dockable panel. This screen also includes the taxa tree view docked above the cell panel.
Dynamic links to ArcGIS. V8 is packaged with ArcGIS although as with v7, you can still map data to your preferred GIS.
An example map connection to GeoCAT for conservation assessments.
Data trees provide an additional mechanism to locate and filter on taxa, places and other hierarchical data. Any hierarchical data can be added as a data tree - another example is botanic garden zones, areas and beds.
You can design and save your own named tree views to display hierarchical data with up to 10 levels. Tree views provide an excellent way to locate and filter your data as well as helping to track down spelling errors.
Dynamic links to multiple external websites. Web pages are updated as you scroll through your data. This example shows two sites docked within gthe BRAHMS application, another two opened in separate browser windows.
The new v8 WebConnect provides greater control when uploading data and images to BRAHMS online, for example, when creating a virtual herbarium or botanic garden.
BRAHMS 7 and continued support
Some users will want to continue using BRAHMS v7. This version will be permanently maintained and supported after the release of v8. It will not however be further expanded.
BRAHMS 8 licensing
While many projects use v7 free of charge, others license the system and contribute modestly to development and support. This has provided stability to the entire project, avoiding dependency on single source financing. Projects wishing to continue to use v7 will be able to do so as now. Projects wishing to upgrade to v8 will be required to license the system. Licensing will further guarantee the sustainable future of the entire system. Clearly, those with no or limited resources will be protected.